The Health Hazard of Jewelry
Jewelry Hygiene expert David Bellman Explains how Dirty Your Jewelry Really Gets...
We wear our jewelry to express our personality at the moment. We imbue ourselves with emotional importance as our bling often symbolizes or memorializes the important events and/or people in our lives.
But how do you take care of it? If you think for a minute when was the last time you cleaned your jewelry?
According to Jewelry Hygiene expert David Bellman, “After just a few weeks of wear, the oils from our skin, hand creams, food particles, dirt and grim from everything we touch over the course of a day gets trapped in-between and under these gemstones and it just builds up over time.”
If you’re like most people, you never clean your jewelry. Ask anyone you know that works in the jewelry business about the cleanliness of the jewelry they see people wearing and they will tell you, it is almost always filthy. It’s the DIRTY little industry secret no one really wants to talk about.
The dirt, grime, lotions and creams all build up and stop gems from sparkling, among other things; but just how dirty is uncleaned jewelry?
Is there bacteria, viruses, microbes and infections lurking in those gems? Unfortunately yes. Our precious jewelry, like anything we wear, has the possibility to build bacteria loads and carry the germs and viruses we come in contact with. The rings we wear on our fingers touch everything we touch, which just makes it that much more concerning.
Apart from looking under a microscope, we know that jewelry is dirty when it loses it’s sparkle but jewelry does not lose its sparkle because it gets old, it loses its sparkle because it’s dirty. A general rule of thumb is that regularly worn jewelry should be cleaned once a week (wedding rings, necklaces) and jewelry worn less often should be cleaned about once a month.
Many people assume that their jewelry will get cleaned when they wash their hands. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, water may even increase the level of bacteria on your jewelry and ultimately on your skin.
According to the Nightingale study commissioned by DHB Ventures Group,
“A number of studies have shown that ring wearing increases the likelihood of bacterial contamination; in particular these studies have demonstrated that the skin under rings can be more heavily colonized than areas of the skin without rings and can be a major contributor to hand contamination.”
Washing hands with a dirty ring or putting a dirty ring back on recently washed hands, essentially makes hands dirty again.
So, how can one properly clean and sanitize their jewelry?
The Nightingale study found that bacteria loads on jewelry reaches a high level in just 2 weeks of regular wear.
One way to make sure your jewelry is clean and sanitized is to bring your jewelry to a local jeweler where it can be professionally cleaned.
For those who cannot make a weekly visit, a few do-it-yourself options (which generally include bleach or chemicals like ammonia) do exist, along with lots of scrubbing with a brush. Although these methods generally do end with a cleaner piece of jewelry, the result is a messy clean-up.
What about soap and water?
If jewelry hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, soap and water will get the jewelry cleaner for sure but likely not sanitized.
Similar to the do-it-yourself methods mentioned above, you still need to scrub your pieces with a brush getting into any crevices in order to dislodge the film and gunk that gets wedged in there. Additionally, the jewelry would need to be rinsed thoroughly to remove all soap otherwise soap residue will start a new layer of film/gunk. Lastly, jewelry needs to air dry before it can be worn otherwise any trapped moisture (between the ring and skin or in the crevices) acts as an accelerator of new bacteria growth.
A good parallel is understanding that soap and water is good at sanitizing skin (hands) but does not sanitize under fingernails as gunk/bacteria/germs can still be wedged under there.
Jewelry Sanitizing Devices
Jewelry cleaning devices available on the market make it easier to sanitize jewelry but not all are created equal.
The most popular choice on the market is a cleaner called Magnasonic Cleaner. While the Magnasonic Cleaner is easy to use, it lacks all the cleaning (heat/steam) elements needed to remove the dirt, filth and bacteria/germs/viruses that build up on jewelry.
The only home option available that actually sanitizes jewelry and is easy to use is the GemSpa by Kathy Ireland. This machine cleverly uses a combination of an anti-bacterial gel and the sanitizing power of the heat and steam of your home dishwasher to remove 99.9% of bacteria.
Another top product on the market is the Sienna TrioShine which does get good marks for sanitizing as it has a steamer spout, but the cost and inconvenience of storage (it is large) and set-up (it takes 45 minutes for the steamer to heat up) may make the task of using it a bit burdensome.
Maybe you’re well aware of how dirty your jewelry is and have never been able to find the right solution to fit it into your regular cleaning habits, or maybe you never thought about it before but once you realize that jewelry carries 3-5 times more bacteria than a public toilet it’s hard to sleep at night without finding a way to clean and sanitize jewelry regularly.
Finding a way to care for jewellery isn’t easy but our health is worth it!